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The Family Tree

3.44  ·  Rating details ·  164 Ratings  ·  46 Reviews
A man in the 1800s comes upon a beautiful forest and decides to build his home there. When he clears the land, he leaves one special tree to grace his front yard. Over the years, several generations of his family enjoy this tree, but it is endangered by a plan to build a highway. A young boy and his host of animal friends get together to make a stand, and give back to the ...more
40 pages
Published March 27th 2012 by Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
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David McPhail is awesome and his illustrations have a quiet centeredness to them that really works for this story. I liked the passage of time in the first half of the book but the second half worked less well for me. I'm torn between wanting to introduce concepts such as environmentalism and activism on a child-appropriate level and also wanting to represent the world accurately to children: I am too much a cynic to believe that any road is going to be diverted just because a child says so, and ...more
Emmaline MacBeath
A man goes to a new land to build a home. He clears the land, but keeps one tree as shade for his home. Several generations grow up in the home and the tree remains. But progress happens. A road is built in front of the home. One day they plan to widen the road to make a highway. The tree must come down. The youngest child of the generations protests. Animals come to help him protest. The builders decide to reroute the road and time goes on.

The illustrations are quite lovely watercolor and ink.
Apr 06, 2018 rated it liked it
A pleasant story about heritage and environmentalism.
Sep 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book had great illustrations. It made kids start thinking about family traditions. The tree meant a lot to the great great grandfather, and that carried throughout the generations.
Feb 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
I loved the time progression in this one. It was very well done.
Lola Volkova
Jan 18, 2018 rated it liked it
This is the book that leads me to David Mcphail.
Richie Partington
Apr 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Richie's Picks: THE FAMILY TREE by David McPhail, Henry Holt, March 2012, 32p., ISBN: 978-0-8050-9057-4

"Far past the frozen leaves
The haunted, frightened trees"
--Bob Dylan

"He chopped down trees to make fields for his crops and pastures for his animals. But he left one tree standing. It would provide shade for his house during the long hot summers and act as a buffer against the chilly winter winds."

The squirrel from David McPhail's MOLE MUSIC is back! Or maybe it's that squirrel's great-great-gr
Andi Martineau
Sep 17, 2012 rated it liked it
The Family Tree is about a man long ago who moves into a new area. He cuts down many trees to build a new house and make a pasture for his cattle. The man however leaves one tree standing that he comes to love. As time goes on he has a family and his boys have a family. Many years later his great-great-grandson is now living on the farm and has also fallen in love with the tree. One day workers come to cut the tree down so that they can build a new road. The little boy protests and soon the road ...more
Jazmyne Henry
Oct 09, 2012 rated it liked it
This is a fiction story of a little boy who unites with his animal friends for a good cause. When the tree that has been in his family for generations is going to be cut down, The young boy protests with his animal friends to save the tree. In the end, the young boy and the construction workers create a plan that works for everyone. As a Literacy teacher I would use this text on Earth Day or Arbor Day to show the importance of the environment. The students can also use this text to find out what ...more
Sep 11, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books
This is the story of a very special tree. It was left standing when the rest of the space was cleared to build a house many years ago. This tree would shelter the little house. It witnessed many changes over the years as horse and wagon changed to cars. There were births and deaths on the farm, until finally it was the great-great grandson of the original building of the home who lived there. The tree still stood, strong and straight. But then it was threatened as a new road was planned that wou ...more
Nancy Kotkin
While the previous generations are relevant to the story, they are background information; yet they consume half the pages of the book. We don't actually meet the protagonist until pg 20, and then his story is crammed into the remaining 20 pgs of this picture book. As a result, the story suffers.

We do children a disservice to make them think that a small boy and a few forest animals can, without any sort of civil protest and due process, make builders re-route an entire highway. Not that I think
Apr 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
'The Family Tree' written and illustrated by David McPhail gets five stars because I love this story and I love trees.

Too often, nature is taken for granted and that it horrible. In this book, David McPhail gets it right and shows us a poignant story of how anyone can stand up for their beliefs and at least by trying to save something, it could happen if you believe enough in the power to fight for what is right.

Beautifully illustrated.

Published by Henry Holt & Company.
#PB #trees #nature #
Sam Gallagher
May 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The Family Tree is there for it all. It watches as a house is built in its shade and a family is raised and then another. Then the tree is about to be cut down, but the boy who loves it fights to save it. This book, illustrated beautifully in soft pastels and watercolor is a wonderful story. The illustrator does a marvelous job at portraying the time passing and changing the scenery while the tree remains constant. This would be an excellent book to use in a class room to talk about heritage and ...more
Karen Arendt
Sep 06, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books, family
Charming story of a man who travels west in the late 1800s to build a house, leave the house and return with a wife, then raise his family there. As he is clearing the land, he leaves one tree standing for shade in the summer and protection from the wind in the winter. generations later, his descendants are sill living in the house and a great great grandchild protects the house from modernization. McPhail's illustrations are full of colorful browns, and greens with a solid white border around e ...more
Kristina Jean Lareau
Feb 05, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: picturebook
These watercolor and ink illustrations are typical of McPhail's style--well done and detailed. The book itself provides a great--albeit overdone--message. It immediately called to mind Gary Crew's and Shaun Tan's The Memorial as well as Virginia Lee Burton's The Little House. Either way, it is worth a read, though it doesn't cover any new ground.
Dec 01, 2012 added it
This story is about a tree that is planted and how it serves various purposes throughout generations. Eventually, the tree is going to be cut down to widen the road that runs by the house. The little boy who lives in the house, the great-great grandson of the man who planted the tree does what he can to save the tree. Nearby forest animals come to the aid of the boy and the tree is saved to be enjoyed by future generations.
May 18, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: picture_book
This book makes a little the same way that Shel Silverstein's The Giving Tree does. We follow a family - and their favorite tree - through the years. When the highway needs to come through the area, a little boy and his animal friends save the tree...but then the tree is located directly next to a giant highway in the end. :(
Hope L. Justice
If you're going to write a historical fiction picture book, don't end a very straight forward, heart warming story, with a boy surrounded by predators protecting a tree. I was on board with the plot until I saw this illustration. There was no "fantastical" mentions any where else in the book. It is sudden, and seemingly random, to end this way.
Oct 14, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: children-s
The art is lovely, and the narrative moves along, but it's rather painful and tortured. We're sad to see the pioneer cut down a forest (portrayed unremoursefully), and then meant to feel happy that one tree was saved? Saved by having a highway skirt it? A very sad tale of "progress," one that left my 5 yr old a bit conflicted. Can't blame her.
Nov 10, 2012 rated it did not like it
Shelves: children-books
I really wanted to like this book but I ended up skipping the words of the story and telling my own. It just was too much for my class without actually using a lot of words. I was bored with it and wished that this week when I read it wasn't so chaotic or else I would have read it ahead of time and realized that is was a no go before I started on it.
Julia Jasztal
Jan 08, 2013 rated it it was ok
(Mommy's review from 5/12)

This is okay but it's hardly worthy of 5 stars IMO. Julia liked it well enough but it's not wordy enough for either of us. We both agreed we really liked the subject, the little boy, what he does, etc. but the story just didn't deliver for us.
Kim Patton
Aug 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shows the history of a tree from the time the land was settled through the years. Finally a young boy must save the tree when a roadway is going to be put where the tree stands. Beautiful illustrations and text that is easy to understand.
Rebecca Hochman
Sep 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book has awesome illustration in it! The way the author uses the pen and ink adding a multiple of lines in this is amazing! It has a good lesson of tradition and starting something new. The colors in this are amazing! I would read this book to younger students.
Jun 15, 2012 rated it really liked it
Another beautiful picture book by David McPhail, he never disappoints. I don't think I could do this one for story time because I'm not sure I can get through the part where old generations leave the family and the little boy is standing next to the grave without crying. Beautifully done!!!
When I flipped through it I thought for sure my kids and I would be in tears as the boy defends his family tree from a new row expansion. We weren't. It didn't click for us on that level. Maybe it was a bit forced, or for me it was distracting having the word bubbles, and the regular text.
Mar 23, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: humane-education
In an era of the thoughtless plundering of natural resources, here is a voice in favor of valuing our natural history. This is a nice story to read for Arbor day, or simply to impart environmental values any day of the week.
Dimity Powell
Apr 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: kids-lit
Miss 9 rated this one. Live and let live.
Apr 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: pb
Very nice. I don't know why, but David McPhail's books always bring a little tear to my eye. :-)
Joseph Leiter
Sep 17, 2015 rated it really liked it
The family tree tells a really good story to kids who like to think they can be on there own and what all it takes. I really recommend this book because kids will find it interesting.
Maimoona Albar
Feb 21, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: children-books
The story connects children with the environment. I like how it shows that a child with friends' support can make a difference.The illustrations are colorful and it caught my attention.
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David was born in Newburyport, Massachusetts and attended the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. While there, he began illustrating. He is now an award-winning author and illustrator of nearly 200 books beloved by children, parents and librarians across the United States. McPhail has garnered many prestigious awards, including a New York Times Book Review Best Illustrated Book of the Year ...more
More about David McPhail